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21 April 2010

Book Review: A Short History of Women

A Short History of Women
by Kate Walbert 


Many people have decried the sketch/vignette structure of this slim novel as unsatisfying. Yes. Like life. We wander through it, doing the things we need to do, and saying the things we need to say, and usually, never, only sometimes, scratching past the surface of life's depth.

That's what all of Walbert's women do but how can she write depth for us when her characters never figured out how to embrace and write depth for themselves?

And why do we expect depth and meaning in our novels but decry it in our day-to-day lives?

Not a book with answers. A book that raises more questions. A book that makes you wonder if you will be they. Or if you already are.

A book about The Woman Question.

"Conversation is now just approximations of opinions adopted from other opinions that were approximations of opinions, etcetera, etcetera. I'm just trying to be real when everything is an approximation."

"I find it is the dark of night when you least expect it - whatever this thing is - regret, perhaps, but not, it is bigger than that, more epic, somehow, padded and full and weirdly historical: this restlessness, this discontent. You've done it wrong, again, and you were going to do it perfectly. You've lost the forest for the trees. Now it rises up to knock your breath out."